In his 1997 blockbuster film “Titanic”, Canadian director James Cameron gave the world a look at the “unsinkable” ship unlike anyone had ever seen before.

Thanks to footage from the wreck itself and some dazzling special effects, audiences were transported back in time to the deck of the grandest ship in the world on its maiden voyage.

People all around the world will mark the sinking of Titanic this weekend – 100 years to the day of the disaster that resulted in the loss of 15-hundred lives.

Despite the conspiracy theories that have been floated since the fateful night it struck an iceberg and sank – most conventional thinking about why the ship sank is fairly consistent.

Many believe it was a combination of human error, bad luck and poor design.

Titanic sank in the icy waters of the North Atlantic Ocean exactly 100 years ago this weekend and while the drama and tragedy of the event continue to be at the forefront of most discussions related to the ship – one aspect of the sinking cannot be avoided and needs to be noted.

The fact is, Titanic’s sinking on April 15th, 1912 (it actually struck the iceberg on the 14th just before midnight and sank just after 2:30am on the 15th) ushered in a multitude of changes in the maritime industry.

In order to try and avoid similar tragedies one of the key changes that were made as a direct result was the creation of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea or SOLAS.

Captain Jim Parsons of the Fisheries and Marine Institute at Newfoundland’s Memorial University tells 570 News how it came about “…two years after – in 1914 the maritime nations gathered in London and adopted SOLAS and that meeting took into account the lessons that were learned from the Titanic disaster.”

SOLAS also led to the creation of the International Ice Patrol.  It’s an agency of the United States Coast Guard that even to this day monitors and reports on the location of North Atlantic Ocean icebergs that could pose a threat to sea traffic there.

Parsons adds that Environment Canada is a great resource for mariners as well “…they’ve done a very good job of monitoring icebergs and ice conditions off the east coast of Canada and in their notice to mariners send in reports if they spot an iceberg…”

As for the theory that human error is the one thing that hasn’t changed in the 100 years since Titanic went down, Captain Parsons explains why it happens “I think what happens is that we tend to make mistakes more so when we become complacent…and after a period of time when nothing goes wrong, then our guard tends to drop.”

He adds that the right kind of training needs to occur, “We tend to do evacuation or drills when people are awake, and its the middle of the day and it’s nice and light…and calm conditions but quite often that’s not the case when something really happens.  We’re training maybe under some false pretences as to what could really happen when the time comes that a disaster may strike.”

Advances in technology have certainly changed the world, and that includes the maritime industry.  At the heart of many technological advances is the idea that they can somehow limit or even eliminate human error.  

Parsons says while technology is great – we can’t afford to rely on it too much “…there are times that technology is not able to replace a individual or an experienced mariner…so we have to be careful as to when we use technology and how we use technology, but (it’s) certainly making life easier for everybody.”

As for whether or not the future will involve ships that steer and drive themselves Parsons says they already do that “…but there is a time when people will have to be there.”

Also of note in the way of changes that have taken place since the disaster.  Radio communications on passenger ships are to be operated 24 hours and must include a secondary power supply, so as to avoid missing distress calls.  As well, ships are required to maintain contact with other vessels that happen to be in their vicinity.

And as you saw while the ship was going down in the ’97 film, signal flares were being launched off the deck.  Another significant change from 1914 on was that flares launched from ships were always to be considered a call for help.

Clearly a lot has changed, but based on recent incidents like what happened with the Costa Concordia sinking off the Italian coast and the Costa Allegra being adrift in the Indian Ocean – not everything can be avoided when it comes to life on the water.